University of Oregon Teams Lose One Loyal Daisy Duck

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

The greatest Duck fan of them all is gone.

"Absolutely the biggest Duck fan I ever met," said Yvonne O'Herron, who is now the "lone survivor" among active Daisy Duck members who helped start the University of Oregon athletics booster group in 1972.

O'Herron was talking about Jeanne Leilani Havercroft, who died Tuesday of cancer at Eugene's Valley West Health Cancer Center. Havercroft was 72.

If you were watching the Feb. 14 UO men's basketball game against Washington in Seattle on TV, maybe you remember hearing her name.

Havercroft's most recent battle with cancer, and her remarkable love for Oregon athletics, was mentioned during the telecast by longtime Pac-10 basketball broadcasters Barry Tompkins and Dan Belluomini, thanks to UO head coach Ernie Kent, who asked them if they would do such a favor.

"We had no idea it was coming," said Dan Rodriguez, executive director of the UO Alumni Association.

Rodriguez was one of about 25 people - the Oregon Duck mascot included - who had joined Havercroft in a Valley West meeting room to watch the game on TV.

"It made Jeanne smile," Rodriguez said of the on-air reference. "And it put a tear in her eye."

The TV-watching party was, of course, Havercroft's idea. After being hospitalized at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend on Jan. 20, she was moved to Valley West five days later, said Sharon Moore, a close friend and fellow Daisy Duck.

And dang if she wasn't going to have some fun, Duck-style, despite the grim prognosis.

"I want a party, and I want to watch a basketball game," fellow Daisy Duck Jerry Snortland remembers Havercroft saying.

Havercroft loved the Ducks so much that she often painted her fingernails and toenails green or yellow.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer not long after her husband, Robert "Bob" Havercroft, died of cancer himself in 1994, Daisy Duck Bonnie Norris said. The cancer went into remission for years but came back last fall, spreading to her bones and brain.

The UO has played 243 home football games at Autzen Stadium since it opened in 1967, and Jeanne Havercroft liked to brag about never having missed one.

Ever. Not even this past season after being told the cancer had come back.

By the end of the season, though, she was having trouble getting up and down the stairs to her 50-yard-line seats, said Moore, who shared the seats with her in recent seasons. …